Thus embittered against the allies, it was only with great reluctance, and after a long and bitter struggle, that Louis XVIII. consented to the demands made by the allies in behalf of the family of Napoleon. But the Emperor Alexander kept his word; he defended the rights of the Queen of Holland and her children against the ill-will of the Bourbons, the dislike of the royalists, and the disinclination of the allies, alike. The family of the emperor owed it to him and to his firmness alone that the article of the treaty of the 11th of April, in which Louis XVIII. agreed “that the titles and dignities of all the members of the family of the Emperor Napoleon should be recognized, and that they should not be deprived of them,” remained something more than a mere phrase.
It was only after repeated efforts that the emperor at last succeeded in obtaining for Hortense, from Louis XVIII., an estate and a title, that secured her position. King Louis finally yielded to his urgent solicitations, and conferred upon Hortense the title of Duchess of St. Leu, and made her estate, St. Leu, a duchy.
But this was done with the greatest reluctance, and only under the pressure of the king’s obligations to the allies, who had given him his throne; and these obligations the Bourbons would have forgotten as willingly as the whole period of the revolution and of the empire.
For the Bourbons seemed but to have awakened from a long sleep, and were not a little surprised to find that the world had progressed in the meanwhile.
According to their ideas, every thing must have remained standing at the point where they had left it twenty years before; and they were at least determined to ignore all that had happened in the interval. King Louis therefore signed his first act as in “the nineteenth” year of his reign, and endeavored in all things to keep up a semblance of the continuation of his reign since the year 1789. Hence, the letters-patent in which King Louis appointed Hortense Duchess of St. Leu were drawn up in a manner offensive to the queen, for they contained the following: “The king appoints Mademoiselle Hortense de Beauharnais Duchess of St. Leu.”
The queen refused to accept this title, under the circumstances, and rejected the letters-patent. It was not until the czar had angrily demanded it, that M. de Blacas, the king’s premier, consented to draw up the letters-patent in a different style. They read: “The king appoints Hortense Eugenie, included in the treaty of the 11th of April, Duchess of St. Leu.” This was, to be sure, merely a negative and disguised recognition of the former rank of the queen; but it was, at least no longer a degradation to accept it.
The Viceroy of Italy, the noble Eugene—who was universally beloved, and who had come to Paris, at the express wish of the czar, to secure his future—occasioned the Bourbons quite as much annoyance and perplexity.
The king could not refuse to recognize the brave hero of the empire and the son-in-law of the King of Bavaria, who was one of the allies; and, as Eugene desired an audience of the king, it was accorded him at once.